Shoulder replacement surgery

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    Donna O on #192321

    I am scheduled to have a left shoulder replacement in the next few weeks. My physician has told me my left shoulder will be immobilized for approximately 4 weeks and I will have physical therapy thereafter. Has anyone had this done and if so what was the recovery time and how long before you were able to return to the harp? I have asked my physician about this but he seems a little vague in addressing my harp playing. Were there specific issues or problems related to your playing the harp? I would really appreciate any feedback.

    patricia-jaeger on #192323

    Donna, be sure to get a second, and perhaps even a third opinion as to whether surgery is the only option. My adult son, an EMT and excellent driver, after being hit on the driver side by a person who ran a red light with his car from a cross street, had a broken shoulder and his car was totaled. The driver had no license and apparently now will not be issued one. My son was advised he would not require surgery but the shoulder would heal naturally- which it did, and he can lift things well-even my harp. On the chance you could escape surgery, I thought I would write. Every case is different, of course.

    Donna O on #192324

    Thans Patricia. I’m glad things worked out well for your son. Unfortunately, I have bone on bone arthritis of the shoulder joint. I have had physical therapy and several series of cortisone over the past two years and now have run out of options. I’m just worried about my ability to play the harp again.

    Alyson Webber on #192325

    I bet your doctor is being vague because he honestly has no idea how quickly you will recover. Your current fitness level and dedication to physical therapy will probably determine how well you recover more than anything else.

    I am not in the medical profession, but my father and uncle both had knee replacement surgery at virtually the same time. Both in their 60s. My father bounced back much quicker than my uncle, so maybe there’s no real way of comparing your body to someone else’s, even if they have the same surgery.

    Which shoulder is it? If it is the left shoulder, can you continue to play right-handed while you recover? If the right, you will probably have to wait to put the harp on it until the physical therapist clears it.

    That being said, if people can walk again after knee replacement surgery, I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to play the harp again. My uncle, although he recovered slower, is now doing great!

    Just stick with your physical therapy and try to be patient with the healing.

    Gretchen Cover on #192326

    Donna, I live in Florida where it seems like everyone is bionic. My husband had his hip replaced, and we have a lot of friends who have had knee or hip replacements. If you can do the rehab exercises prior to surgery, that will help a lot with recovery. Ask about that. It will give you something positive to do while you wait. My husband was walking a mile in 10 days after his hip replacement – in part because he did not want to wear compression stockings in hot weather and because he started rehab in earnest prior to surgery. And, the post-surgery mantra from the joint replacement crowd is ‘slow but steady.’ My best to you on your surgery and may you be pain free.

    Donna O on #192328

    Alyson and Gretchen, Thank you both for your supportive words. I am already doing exercises in preparation for the surgery so hopefully that will work in my favor. Yes fortunately, it is my left shoulder. I plan to continue playing at least with my right hand while recovering. I have a Dusty Crescendo 34 which is much lighter than my Prelude and will work primarily on that while recovering.
    I have had two knee replacements in the past and so I am familiar with that recovery, but the estimates I have seen for shoulder recovery seem to be considerably longer than knees and way longer than hip replacement.

    llapidus on #192419

    Donna, I, too am facing shoulder surgery soon. Rotator cuff and bicep tendon repair on the right side. I will be in a sling for 4 weeks, then PT for a few months. Other’s I’ve spoken with have told me that doctors tell them not to consider full use of the shoulder for 6 months. But I know someone who was lifting 50lb bags after 5 months. I think you’ll be playing again long before you will be carrying it around easily. Eveyone tells me that PT is the most important part. Do it, but don’t over do it. Waiting is hard. I wish I was on the other side of it working to get it better. Good luck to us both.

    Donna O on #192420

    llapidus, Thanks for that information. I understand recovery and PT are similar for both of our surgeries. I hope everything goes well for you. I too wish I was already on the other side of it.

    Tomye Waller on #192421

    Sorry to here about the upcoming surgery.
    First ask what kind of shoulder replacement. There are different types. The drive is to go less invasive in these surgeries.
    As far as Rehab. after surgery make sure you complete it and don’t over do it. This includes rushing through it.
    Talk with the Therapy folks to before the surgery to explain to them what you do as harpist. How you position yourself to play.
    Be your own advocate. Ask questions to your doctor’s office/ therapist. Most surgeons are not aware of what is needed by harpist to recover. Surgeons fix bodies, they are mainly focused on that.
    While your shoulder is immobilized continue to hand exercises and wrist stretches. Again talk to your therapist to identify exercises.
    The big thing in shoulder recovery is to keep muscles that can move moving until all of the arm can move without pain. Remember don’t rush it.
    Best of luck to you.

    Donna O on #192423

    Thanks Tomye, I understand that the PT is the key to full recovery. I think that I will be having the more traditional incision and repair rather than minimally invasive. I agree that the doctors have no idea what a harpist needs to do. Excellent idea about talking to a therapist before the surgery. I will try to do that.
    I have already stopped my lessons just before Christmas, so am trying to review pieces already learned but sometimes neglected, since I am not working on new material.

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